Contact Energy's renewed plans for more hydro generation
on the Clutha River will have a significant impact on
Queenstown residents, even though they live a long way from the
main proposed dam site at Tuapeka Mouth, a local teacher says.
Ken McIntyre, an outdoor education teacher at Wakatipu High
School, has issued a "call to arms" for Queenstown locals,
saying if that dam is built - or indeed any of the four
options Contact announced recently - Queenstown school pupils
will be affected.
Mr McIntyre (48) runs a three-day river skills and kayaking
course once a year, involving up to 20 students, on the
Clutha River, from Millers Flat down to Beaumont, an area
that would be inundated by a 3400ha lake stretching 50km up
the river should a 50m high, 350MW dam be built near Tuapeka
"People around here need to understand some of their kids are
going to miss out if this happens," he said.
"Any of these dams will affect people in this neck of the
woods. The Clutha is New Zealand's last big river and a
tremendous amount of recreational activity will be lost."
Could his outdoor skills courses not be held elsewhere?
"True, they could, but where? The fact is, there really
aren't any big, safe, open rivers around here for our
His most recent course was held last month and pupils were
based at the Millers Flat camping ground, where they learned
to deal with unfamiliar things, such as using a Zip hot water
heater. They also saw a speed shearing contest.
"Queenstown kids, I feel, need to be exposed to a little bit
more country life."
This is not the first time Mr McIntyre has been opposed to
more dams being built on the Clutha River.
He was active in the 1980s when the former Electricity
Corporation's plans sparked a "Hands Off Beaumont" protest
He is originally from South Otago and taught at South Otago
High School in Balclutha, running the Beaumont Dambusters
multi-sport event there for several years before moving to
Queenstown in 1990.
He urged Wakatipu residents to become more familiar with what
Contact Energy was proposing for the Clutha and what could be
lost if any dams were built.
"A lot of people drive down that road and are probably more
concerned about getting over the [one way] Beaumont bridge
without being held up.
"But I'd urge them to go up the Millennium Track [the back
road from Beaumont to Millers Flat] where they'd see a big
river still relatively unscathed. It is just beautiful," he